Carnival – Vocabulary

Carnival in Brazil is part of Brazilian culture and starts on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and ends on Ash Wednesday at noon. 

It’s a big celebration of the food and pleasures one has to give up during Lent. 

Because the celebrations happen during Brazil’s summer, the ambiance is perfect for massive parties. There is even a common saying in Brazil that “the year starts only after Carnival,” referring to the number of people that take their holidays between New Year’s and Carnival, a national holiday.

How about learning the main words about carnival in English? Listen to pronunciation and note the words, not on the lists below.

Vocabulário geral

Street CarnivalCarnaval de rua
Samba schools paradeDesfile das escolas de samba
Carnival blocksBlocos de Carnaval
Carnival warm-upEsquenta de Carnaval

Nas escolas de samba

Flag bearerPorta-bandeira
Drum sectionAla da bateria
Drum section queenRainha da bateria
FloatsCarros alegóricos
Revelers / ParadersParticipantes ou público dos desfiles
Wing / SectionAla
Access groupGrupo de acesso
Special groupGrupo especial
Parade of championsDesfile das campeãs


  • Band on a float – Trio elétrico
  • Carnival ball – Baile de Carnaval
  • Carnival marchs – Marchinhas de Carnaval
  • Commission of front – Comissão de frente
  • Revelry – Folia
  • Samba schools rehersals – Ensaios das escolas de samba
  • Samba-plot/story – Samba–enredo

Sobre as datas

Mardi Gras / Fat TuesdayTerça-feira de Carnaval
Ash WednesdayQuarta-feira de Cinzas

Verbos úteis

(To) celebrate CarnivalPular Carnaval
(To) dress up asVestir-se de
(To) paradeDesfilar
(To) sambaSambar

Frases úteis

  • Where are you celebrating the carnival? Onde você vai pular o carnaval?
  • Are you going to parade in a street block this year? Você vai desfilar em algum bloco de rua esse ano?
  • The revelers of the drum section are wearing beautiful costumes! Os foliões da ala de bateria estão usando fantasias lindas!
  • Let’s go to the bleachers to watch the parade of champions. Vamos para as arquibancadas para vermos o desfile das campeãs.

Now, marchinhas em inglês

Have fun!

Do you celebrate Carnival?

The world’s biggest carnival celebrations happen in Brazil. In Rio and São Paulo, the samba schools (escolas de samba) offer the famous parades (desfiles) in the Sambódromo, with thousands of members and spectacularly decorated floats (carros alegóricos) demonstrating specific themes.

During carnival, groups of dancers and street bands called blocks (blocos) parade the streets with many of the revelers (foliões) wearing costumes (fantasias).

Another popular feature of carnival, especially in Salvador, is the trio elétrico – band on a float, a huge truck, adapted with giant speakers and a stage on top, where musicians and singers perform to the delight of thousands of fans who follow the truck as it goes slowly through the streets.

Throughout the country, many clubs also arrange carnival balls (bailes).

The state of Pernambuco is famous for its carnival celebrations and the styles of music and dancing (Frevo and Maracatu). According to The Guinness Book of Records, Recife hosts the largest carnival parade in the world, known as the Galo da Madrugada – Lit. the cock or rooster (US) at daybreak, which takes place in the center of Recife on the Saturday of carnival.

Okay, so whether you celebrate carnival (pular o carnaval) by partying noisily or relaxing quietly at home, do what makes you happy!

Source: Break the Branch? Quebrar o Galho – Common, Everyday Words and Phrases in Brazilian Portuguese, de Jack Scholes, Disal Editora, 2008.

Blumenau’s birthday or anniversary?

Blumenau is a Brazilian city in the southern state of Santa Catarina, where it’s believed that 30% of the city’s 400,000 residents are of German descent.

Since 1984, Blumenau hosts an Oktoberfest which is seen as the second biggest beer festival in the world, surpassed only by the original festival in Munich.

September 2 was Blumenau’s 172 anniversary.


Na língua inglesa, essas são as duas palavras a serem usadas quando queremos nos referir à aniversário.

Há um consenso entre os professores de inglês brasileiros, que se for o aniversário de uma pessoa, usamos o substantivo birthday pois, como o próprio nome já diz, refere-se ao dia do nascimento (birth significa “nascimento” e day significa “dia”).

E que usamos anniversary para referir-se à data em que um evento importante aconteceu, como aniversário de casamento, aniversário da cidade, ou a data da fundação de alguma empresa ou instituição. Veja:

Mas nas minhas pesquisas, encontrei diferentes resultados.

Instead of giving rules and exceptions, I’ll show you the result of my search. / Em vez de dar regras e exceções, lhe mostrarei o resultado dela.


The anniversary of the birth of a person.

He was in New York to celebrate his 74th birthday.

The date on which someone is born or something is created, more commonly called birthdate or date of birth.


(especially) The date on which a couple married or the date on which a romance began. It also means the celebration which takes place on an anniversary day.

We are celebrating our tenth anniversary today.


A day that is an exact number of years (to the day) since a given significant event occurred. Often preceded by an ordinal number indicating the number of years.

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war.

Speech on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

WVU vigil, other remembrance events planned to mark 20th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Birthday and anniversary

The anniversary of the day on which something is created.

Birthday and anniversary

The anniversary of something’s origin or foundation.

The holiday is to celebrate the city anniversary.

The City of Cleveland Orchestra is celebrating its 200th birthday.

Happy 10th birthday: UNU-CRIS – United Nations University

Hats off to Academia Sinica’s Institute of Law on its tenth birthday!

Interestingly, even though we don’t usually refer to birth dates as “anniversaries,” we use the death anniversary when referring to death dates. / Curiosamente, embora geralmente não nos refiramos a datas de nascimento como “anniversary”, usamos “aniversário” de morte quando nos referimos a datas de falecimento.

Remembering dad on his death anniversary is a great agony.

The 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten.

However, unless you qualify the noun anniversary, it is generally taken to mean a wedding anniversary. If you say, Today is my anniversary, unless the context indicates otherwise, you would be speaking of your wedding anniversary.

For other anniversaries, use a qualifier as well. For your employment, you can say work anniversary.

For anniversaries, such as a nation’s birthday, we use a recognized proper name. For the United States, July 4 refers to as “Independence Day.”

These national anniversaries, celebrated in most countries, are called national days. These are the dates of independence or adoption of a new constitution or form of government. 

Well, I hope this information was of some help to you. At least I’m sure you have no doubts about how to greet someone on their birthday, right? 😉

What’s your word for 2022?

I believe that resiliency prevailed in 2021. 

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions that you probably won’t keep, choose a word that can make a positive impact and help guide your decisions over the next year to reach your goals

So, what word will you choose to guide you and give you focus in 2022?

In this video, January the first talks to us and shares a piece of advice.

And the word is movement.

Moving will help you get through the next 364 days with ease, she says.

Start the year doing that: moving. But not just the exercise kind of movement.

She means movement of the spirit, the soul, moving someone else’s heart.

January the first advises us to move to find the inspiration to create, to invent.

When we’re moving, there’s no time for fear, for doubts, because it pushes us forward, it makes us stronger, wiser.

Take her word. Write it down somewhere and put it into action.

It will make every single day of your year count.

It’s an inspirational message, but we can also learn the language we use in our day-to-day life. So here we go!


(Conselho) Advice is uncountable. We say a piece of advice (not ‘an advice’) and some advice (not ‘some advices’).

GET THROUGH​ something

(Lidar) To successfully deal with a problem or difficulty

I know we’re going to get through the pandemic.


(Com facilidade) Without difficulty, easily

They won the game with ease.


(Acreditar na palavra de alguém) To believe someone without needing proof or evidence

I’ve lost my sense of smell, so I’ll have to take your word for any similarities to lavender in terms of scent.

WRITE (something) DOWN

(Anotar) To note, to scribble, to write (something); to put (something) to paper

I think I wrote it down wrong.

Now, what word will you choose to guide you and give you focus in 2022?

  • CONNECTION? It can mean a relationship or bond with another person, and it can also reference connecting with the present moment. 
  • CONTRIBUTION? It could mean an act or monetary donation, but it is about generosity.
  • CONFIDENCE? Focusing on what we are good at and what compliments our personality can help us achieve goals and boost confidence. We learn what we can do and when we need to ask for help.
  • OR MAYBE YES? A simple word, but it can have a strong impact.

My wish for you is to go forward and make a difference in anything that you choose to do. 😉

Do you have a 2021 gratitude list?

The end of the year is a great time to look ahead and draw up (make/put together)a plan for what to do next. But first, let’s go back to what happened this year.

What are you most grateful for in 2021?

How did this person/experience/thing impact your life?

What are the other things you’re grateful for in 2021?

Gratitude benefits us on many levels. It’s good for emotional balance and positively affects our personality

It also helps us appreciate the things we have, do, and are in our lives, giving us the chance to feel good about them rather than focusing on the feeling that keeps telling us we need to have, do and be more.

Cultivating gratitude increases well-being, happiness, energy, optimism, and empathy.

This is what makes it onto my 2021 grateful list:

  • Being alive: my family and I, and all the people I care for;
  • My daughter: so proud of her! She’s facing challenges, in a foreign country, all by herself, and beautifully achieving her full potential;
  • My dear students, former and current ones. Each one is unique, and I’m grateful for the chance to help them with their goals;
  • Every person or being who made me smile, who offered me help, who taught me something, who showed me a better way to be or to do something;
  • Food and shelter;
  • My effort to set the time to make progress in my studies, to think, to self-reflect;
  • New challenges and accomplishments, although simple for others;
  • Making the most out of good and bad experiences;
  • Finding joy in the most simple, tiniest details and this world’s natural beauty;
  • What has gone and what is yet to come.

This video, A Good Day, was recorded fourteen years ago and watched over 1 million times. It features Brother David, a highly-respected Benedictine monk, author, and spiritual leader, and is a blessing to all those with “eyes to see and ears to hear.” Look, listen, and feel inspired by this powerful message on grateful living

And if you want more, Brother David says that the one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy. And happiness, he suggests, is born from gratitude. Below is an inspiring lesson in slowing down, looking where you’re going, and above all, being grateful. 

It is a listening and reading practice if you work on the transcript. You can find it in English and Portuguese if you need it. Look up the words you don’t know.